If I was JUST STARTING
I could not begin to count the number of hours I spent planning for my own son when we started homeschooling. I had SO many ideas and the possibilities were ENDLESS! As an educator this was so exciting! I could do WHATEVER I WANTED! I made thoughtful, detailed plans for each subject....which we ended up using hardly at all.
I don't know if those hours were completely wasted....but yeah, probably. Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes! I would strongly advise to NOT try to plan too far into the future when you are first starting homeschooling, for two main reasons:
You are getting to know what works for your child, this is an experiment. Your time is valuable and you don't need to investigate EVERY curricula or approach. You need to TRY one that looks decent and see if it works! Please don't waste your days as I did, overthinking every subject.
If you are too invested (in time, money, and/or effort) you might be reluctant to make changes to your curriculum that would benefit your child. If I have learned anything from working with students over the years it is that each kid is so uniquely their own self! Kids are natural learners when they can approach the material from their OWN PERSPECTIVE. And that is different for each kid and it takes a little while to get that 'just right.'
ONE place you might want to start is with an all-in-one curriculum where the planning is all done FOR YOU. I feel really good about recommending an all-in-one option, most especially if you are just starting out homeschooling: it can feel like A TON to try to figure out!!
Pros of an All-In-One Curriculum
- The planning is done for you. BUT you can still modify as you want to! Add things in, skip things, it is up to you!
- Less worry about if you are doing 'enough' or 'meeting the standards.'
- Fewer decisions to make: look over a few curricula and pick one to try for a year, or unit, or however that particular curriculum is sold.
- I believe the most important benefit of an all-in-one curriculum is that it frees up YOUR time and focus so you can pay more attention to how your child best learns, what you do that is most effective for your child, and how the two (or more!) of you work together. Having the TIME and SPACE to really look at how learning is happening and talking about all of that with your kid(s) is so incredibly valuable. Taking time for that reflection (often!) is what I have found to be the very best predictor of how engaged and challenged students are.
Cons of an All-In-One Curriculum
- Expense. The cost will be hundreds, if not closer to $1000 for a quality curriculum for about a year/grade level. However, in the long run, it can actually be LESS expensive because you don't need to buy for each subject separately. I personally would have spent less if I had gone this route.
- Feeling like to have to proceed at a certain pace. But you can modify HOWEVER you want to! This is YOUR homeschool! Spend more time on things your kids are interested in or skip over something you just don't want to make time for.
- Feeling tied to the curriculum. You paid big money for this stuff, it better get used! Well, yes, you did probably pay more for an all-in-one curriculum. But if you are frustrated with some aspect of it, try a different approach. There is NOTHING that says you HAVE to follow the lesson plans given to you. Maybe the way history is presented is just boring for you and your child? Look at what time period is being covered so you have some idea of what to focus on and go to a museum instead, or study art or music from that time period. (Or in my son's case: weapons from that time period. Sheesh. Always with the weapons.)
There are at LEAST dozens and dozens to choose from! Many religious, but more and more secular options now too! If it were me, the secular option I would try is Book Shark. I am in no way affiliated with this company, I just think their literature-based approach is lovely!
There are many others to choose from: I would recommend not spending AGES researching and evaluating because there is no 'perfect' curriculum. The fit of a curriculum depends on the kid(s), the parents, and what works well may change over time. So if you are feeling overwhelmed by homeschool planning, try one of these all-in-one curricula! Maybe you'll love it, maybe you'll try something completely different next, but you won't know until you try!
I would love to hear what experiences you have had with an all-in-one curriculum! How did it help? Did you find parts of it frustrating? Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org